Lagan Valley: Jenny Palmer takes seat as an Ulster Unionist
It was all over in Lagan Valley by 8.30pm with the DUP losing one of their four seats to one of their own former councillors.
After falling out with the DUP, Jenny Palmer returned to take her first Assembly seat as an Ulster Unionist, along with party colleague and former fireman Robbie Butler.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph Mrs Palmer said she felt “vindicated” by her victory after her much publicized departure from her old party.
“I would like to think people are ready for change and they saw that in candidates they can put their trust in. I certainly do feel vindicated, a line in the sand has been drawn now”.
Falling on the sword was long standing DUP MLA Jonathan Craig.
The highest vote went to the DUP’s Paul Givan, who was voted back in alongside his colleagues Edwin Poots and Brenda Hale.
Mr Givan said his victory had been “overshadowed” by the loss of Mr Craig from Stormont adding that the UUP’s increased success in Lagan Valley was due to what he called “a local incident” and “nothing to do with Mike Nesbitt’s” leadership.
Discussing his own success he said: “I am delighted it’s a been a very tough four weeks on the campaign trail. Our vote held very strongly here, we remain a very strong DUP constituency in Lagan Valley.”
He continued: “I want to pay tribute to Edwin Poots who sacrificed some of his area losing first preference votes for me. He’s very much a team player, he’s very much the father figure of the party here in Lagan valley”.
Trevor Lunn from the Alliance party came in second despite taking a slight dent to his overall vote from the last election.
While making his victory speech he paid tribute to Jonathan Craig who was originally elected to Stormont with at the same time. After joking he had “finally shaken him off” he added he hoped he had not been lost to politics.
Reflecting on his own result he said: “It was hard fought today my vote did go down from the last election. It’s been a strange election with new forces appearing, perhaps at the expense of some of the more established parties, perhaps at the expense of ourselves but I’m very pleased to be back”.
He added: “At the time of the first preference votes it was disappointing to see it down but this is the way of politics, it doesn’t upset me. Sometimes you have to suffer”.
Vote counters for the Lagan Valley count centre were told to be on standby till Monday, but many were pleasantly surprised to be packing away their tables by a respectable 10 pm.